Tag Archives: Britannia on coins

Britannia – a woman with a past

I nearly forgot I had to post. It seems harder to remember now that I have stopped numbering the posts.

I really don’t like the days after Bank Holidays. It’s nice having Monday off, but as I always have Wednesdays¬† off I have to go into work for just one day. It feels like I’m just getting going when I have to stop again.

Today we did parcels until lunch, having had several orders over the weekend. Then I did halfpennies. I’m preparing a listing for halfpennies from Charles II to George III. The earliest is 1673 and the latest just reaches the early 1800s.

In those days they used Latin names for Kings – Carolus is Charles. It’s clearly been in circulation for some time. Judging by the Victorian coins we had in our pockets when we went decimal it was probably in use for a hundred years. Britannia came into existence with the Romans and first appeared on the coins of Hadrian before many centuries of obscurity. She reappeared on the coins of Charles II in 1672, modelled (according to Samuel Pepys) on ¬†Frances Stewart, later the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox. There are various accounts, some stating that she resisted the advances of Charles II, others that she didn’t.

Over the years she gained a Union Flag on the shield, a trident (in place of the spear) and a helmet. In 1673, when this coin was new, we were at war with the Dutch, Sir Christopher Wren was knighted and the Chelsea Physic Garden was opened. When it was a year old we took back the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and changed the name of the city of New Orange back to New York.

Over the next few years, whilst this coin was still shiny, the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral started and Titus Oates began the Popish Plot.

Interesting times . . .